Judge dismisses U.S. Steel's call for ban on Chinese steel

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Judge dismisses U.S. Steel's call for ban on Chinese steel

Joseph S. Pete  November 29th, 2016

The sign at Gary Works is shown. A judge has dismissed U.S. Steel's Section 337 trade case calling for a total ban on Chinese steel.

An administrative law judge has dismissed U.S. Steel’s Section 337 case that called for a total ban on Chinese steel imports.

U.S. Steel wants all Chinese steel imports banned, claiming China’s steelmakers have fixed prices, ducked tariffs and stolen trade secrets. Judge Dee Lord with the International Trade Commission ruled the company cannot pursue an antitrust case through Section 337, the federal code that allows for investigations into unfair trade practices.

“United States Steel Corporation is shocked and disappointed by ALJ Lord’s Order No. 38, granting the Chinese respondents’ motion to terminate the antitrust claims in the historic 337 case,” U.S. Steel spokeswoman Sarah Cassella said. “This case was filed in April, initiated in May, with discovery ongoing for months now including the retention and identification of experts. Six months after the ITC unanimously decided to initiate this case, including the antitrust claim, ALJ Lord has taken an unusual turn. We are reviewing the Order and assessing our options, including petitioning the ITC for review.”

The International Trade Commission, a six-member panel, potentially could vote to overturn the ruling.

Ever since imports reached a record market share of 29 percent in the United States last year, U.S. Steel has been aggressively pursuing trade cases against foreign countries that send steel here, including a total prohibition on Chinese-made steel.

The United States already imposes more than 160 different tariffs against foreign steel, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Some existing tariffs on Chinese-made steel exceed 500 percent, to offset government subsidies and the dumping of steel for less than it’s worth. Those are violations of international trade laws.

Steel analyst Charles Bradford, with New York City-based Bradford Research Inc., said that while China is a favorite scapegoat of domestic steelmakers, existing tariffs already have eliminated nearly all Chinese steel exports to the United States.

Steelmakers and labor unions contend Chinese steelmakers continue to circumvent tariffs by shipping their steel into the U.S. through other countries such as Vietnam.